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Kentucky Union Workers to Be Reinstated in Jobs after Collusion Ruling

According to The People’s Law Dictionary, collusion is “where two persons (or business entities through their officers or other employees) enter into a deceitful agreement, usually secret, to defraud and/or gain an unfair advantage over a third party, competitors, consumers or those with whom they are negotiating.” Allegedly this is what occurred recently in Louisville, Kentucky between a carhauling company, the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant, and the United Auto Workers (UAW). Earlier in 2012, Jack Cooper Transport, the company that had hauled new vehicles from the Ford plant since the early 1950s, was replaced by Voith Industrial Services. While hiring a new contractor to provide services is not illegal by any means, the way in which it occurred in this case appears to be questionable.

Teamsters 89, the union for the Jack Cooper Transport employees, claimed that 166 of their members were replaced by the new contract with other employees who were not with the Teamsters and were paid much less. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that the new carhauling company – Voith – joined forces with the UAW to keep the higher-paid Teamsters from obtaining jobs under the new contract. On December 21, 2012, Voith was ordered to hire 85 of the displaced workers at their original pay rate, pay them lost wages, and nullify the deal with the UAW while a new contract is drawn up.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was originally passed in 1935 and was called the Wagner Act. It not only allowed employees to unionize, but also protected employees who participated in a union from discrimination. In 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act was passed. It set some boundaries for unions and established some regulations. Today’s statute – The Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) – is a combination of the NLRA and the Taft-Hartley Act, and is enforced by the Nation Labor Relations Board. Under the NLRA, employees can file a petition to unionize if 30 percent of employees support it. An election is then held, but actual unionization can be delayed by objections filed by the company or those wishing to unionize if either group thinks the election was unfair.

There are pros and cons to being unionized. Union members can benefit from more standardized pay rates and increases, more seniority rights, and better protection against discrimination or wrongful termination. If a union member wants to file an unfair labor charge, he or she can do that for free by contacting their local NLRB office. Unfortunately, employees who feel they have been harassed or terminated because of their union affiliation cannot file a claim in court. They also can only be awarded back pay and be reinstated to their job, whereas those not represented by a union can request and be awarded larger monetary amounts in the form of compensatory damages.

The Kentucky employment law attorneys at Miller & Falkner can help union members with issues such as collective bargaining, grievance or interest arbitration, and injunctions or temporary restraining orders.

Sources:

Dis-Union ‘They have turned their backs on us’ WHAS; Joe Arnold; August 10, 2012
Fired Teamsters Win Jobs after Illegal Company-Union Collusion; Labor Notes; Ken Paff; December 31, 2012